The artwork pictures Christ lying motionless on a raised platform, just above the ground. He is surrounded by fourteen mourners who are spread evenly around around his body. Most have golden halos as used by Fra Angelico in many of his paintings to signify divinity, whilst further back is a stone wall which appears to be protecting a prosperous city. A number of slim-trunked trees are dotted about in the foreground, with rolling hills leading off into the distance. A bright sky runs across the top of the painting which allows the artist to incorporate such bright tones in an entirely believable, consistent manner. A large cross sits in the centre of the painting, just behind Christ, and dominates over the figures grouped together below. One of the pleasant aspects of this artwork is the bright tones which produce the figures' clothing, including blues, reds and greens. It is a touching, personal portrait which reminds us all of the significance of Christ in the lives of many, both those around at the time, as well as after his death.
The artwork has been through several challenges in the years since Fra Angelico first completed it. Most recently, floods across Florence in the 1960s would lead to the lower part of the artwork being lost completely, and prior to that it had been moved due to political events in Florence. Thankfully today it is well preserved and the main part of the composition still remains in relatively good condition. Research into the piece has suggested with a high degree of confidence that some of the figures were produced by assistants, because the technical level of them is not up to his standard. The landscape is believed to have been certainly by Angelico, and is similar to other elements of landscape found in some of his other works. For a further interpretation, see also Giotto's Lamentation.
This painting can now be found in the Museo Nazionale di San Marco in Florence and was originally commissioned in April, 1436. There has been considerable discussion over the precise date in which this painting was completed and it seems unlikely that any firm conclusions will be drawn in the future, with so many years having passed since the piece was put together in the early to mid 15th century. The general view is that the painting was completed over a period of several months, possibly with the aid of some of the artist's assistants, though others have suggested that perhaps the piece was left unfinished for a number of years before Fra Angelico returned to finish it off. Many still refer to this piece as the 'Compagnia di Santa Maria della Croce al Tempio' which connects to the original patron who commissioned the artwork.